IT architecture, that is building a business together
Growing into an IT Architect
You don’t have to be an IT architect to become one. Through a training plan Koen made the move from software engineer to Application IT Architect. His colleague Wim also stood out as a talent and from being system engineer became an IT Infrastructure Architect. They talk about their growth trajectory, monitoring the reference architecture and the power of a large community of IT architects, where they share knowledge about new technologies such as blockchain, containerisation, ICS security…
Koen: I started as a software engineer. Through an internal training plan, I was promoted to Application IT Architect. I am now closer to the policy, which allows me to work more on conceptualization and use my analytical skills. As an architect, you translate a business need into an optimally functioning IT concept. Working on different projects at the same time also provides a lot of job variation.
Wim: I used to be a system engineer. My boss noticed that I was able to handle larger projects that require a helicopter view. And that’s right. I get a lot of energy from more complex projects. He also noticed that I listen carefully to the different stakeholders and that I can read between the lines. Colruyt Group IT then proposed a career path towards my current job as IT Infrastructure Architect.
Our reference architecture as a basis for cooperation
Wim: One of the skills you need to master is knowledge of the reference architecture. It is the basis for efficient cooperation. The four types of IT architects use it. In addition to Application and Infrastructure architects, this also includes Data and Security architects. By using architecture standards within the group, we facilitate interaction between our many complex IT applications. It is the right method to make all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, not just today, but also tomorrow.
Koen: In order to ultimately test a design against the established reference architecture, Colruyt Group IT set up the TRB. The Technical Review Board is an internal committee where each IT architecture discipline is represented. It is chaired by an Enterprise IT Architect. I am the coordinator. When a design deviates from the standard, a risk assessment is essential. For example, when we present new technologies. For a project where security is essential, we submit standard questions to the technology provider. They are about security, legal, privacy, SLAs and integration capabilities. Based on the answers, we then identify the potential risks with our New Technology Assessment Tool. From there, we propose measures to further increase the security.
A large community of IT architects
Koen: In our offices, the architects work on the same floor per location. This makes it easier to consult a fellow architect or give advice to a colleague. Sharing knowledge is also important within our IT architects community. At Colruyt Group IT, there are currently around 80 IT architects, who all meet up every six weeks. In Covid times that is a virtual meeting, but that shouldn’t be a problem for IT people. Besides introducing new colleagues, these meetings are a platform for the exchange of knowledge about new technologies, such as OAuth 2, blockchain, containerisation, and so on. Three IT architects take turns managing the day’s programme. The combination of knowledge sharing and community building make these networking events not to be missed.